Building back better – bringing back the joy in schools

Apr 17, 2024


Sushmita Malaviya
Associate Director of Communications, SEEDS
Indian students raising their hands in the air

Students at Krishna Chandra Lower Primary School in India pose after participating in WASH training activity. Photo: Siddharth Behl/SEEDS.

Shahjahan Ahmed studies in Class three and his sister Mehbooba Khanam in Class two of the Krishna Chandra Lower Primary school in Lakhipur village of Cachar district in Lower Assam, India. Situated downhill from a major highway, their school was one among many that was severely damaged in the 2022 floods that caught Lower Assam completely off guard. Whatever little the children and staff were managing with was destroyed as flood waters quickly submerged the school compound. Roof, floors, desks: everything was completely damaged.

Today it is different, says Head teacher Sajal Kant Dey. With the help of Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS), a non-governmental organisation based out of New Delhi, “The classrooms have been renovated and the roof and rainwater harvesting redone, the toilets have also been cleaned up and painted”, he adds.

Now that the school has reopened, SEEDS has initiated a WASH training for students. Teacher Uttama Pal underscores the importance of children’s participation in lessons on basic hygiene and toilet use. “This training is required for the children to keep good health: [they learn] when they should wash their hands, etc.”    

Working across India and neighbouring countries, SEEDS has worked towards humanitarian assistance in emergencies for the past three decades. Dr. Manu Gupta, the Director of SEEDS, shares: “The North-Eastern part of India is an identified climate hot spot. The increased number of climate incidents and the intensity are clearly affecting lives and livelihoods. The SEEDS team has a decade long presence in the state and has strategically worked over the past two years to ensure that the building back of schools is powered to incorporate community resilience as well.”  


Two Indian students, a boy and a girl, in a classroom with school desks behind them
Shahjahan Ahmed (right) with his younger sister Mehbooba Khanam after receiving handwashing training at Krishna Chandra Lower Primary School. Photo: Siddharth Behl/SEEDS.


Building back better means having facilities and education that protects students from infections like diarrhoea that loom particularly large during extreme weather events, but also in daily life. At Krishna Chandra Lower Primary School, the project is already having ripple effects. Student siblings Shahjahan and Mehbooba Khanam are quick to demonstrate what they have learned about handwashing and say that everyone in their house also washes their hands before eating and after defecation.